Shadowlands (2CD)

SKU: 260070
Label:
SPV
Category:
Electronic
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Mr. Schulze has been having a bit of a renaissance lately.  Sadly the analogue years are long gone but within the context of the music, Shadowlands harkens back to the days of X.  Large scale symphonic electronics in the Berlin School tradition that he helped create.  Thomas Kagermann provides violin and flute as well as voice.  Lisa Gerrad, Chrysta Bell and Julia Messenger add vocals.  For the past few decades his releases have been a bit hit or miss but this one is definitely a winner.

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  • "Album art can certainly set the tone and expectations around an album.  A quick look at the cover for Enlighten by Sleeping Romance instantly sends my mind to a gothic, dark medieval setting and that is the right place to go with this release.  Recently signed to Ulterium Records, Sleeping Romance from Modena, Italy has released an epic symphonic metal album that is very impressive for a debut.Being from Italy, my first thought was that this may be an album similar to that from Mourn In Silence, which I really liked as it is a blend of gothic, symphonic, power and black metal, but that is not quite where the sound of Sleeping Romance is.  Those familiar with female-fronted symphonic metal bands like HB, Within Temptation, Delain and others know what to expect from this genre and it is all here.  This is symphonic metal that borders on hard rock and power metal at times.  At times, the songs do seem a bit too formulaic for my tastes as most start with an orchestral intro with beautiful clean vocals and then the “metal” parts of the song kick in with much of the verses consisting of just drums and bass with the vocals at the forefront.  There is nothing wrong with this formula especially when done as well as it is here, but this does introduce a bit of predictability to the album.Any review of this album simply has to have some lines devoted to the vocals of Federica Lanna.  Throughout the entire album, her vocals are one of the standout qualities of the album.  At times, quiet, at other times soaring, but always fully in control with a great range and tone, these are the vocals designed for this genre.  Now, given the implied darkness and gothicness depicted in the album cover, I was expecting a bit of a darker tone from the vocals but they are somewhat surprisingly bright, complementing the music very well.   Quite a few other bands choose to employ some unrestrained, strained screaming female vocals or employ some deep guttural male vocals to provide a contrast to the clean vocals, but Sleeping Romance have chosen to highlight Federica’s vocals.  I would have liked to hear the vocals move a bit more toward the edge of being out of control, but that’s just my personal preference.  With the lush orchestral arrangements often being in the forefront and dominating the sound, having the vocals remain restrained works well with the overall sound.In terms of overall sound on the album, the production quality is very high and the emphasis is definitely toward the symphonic and away from the metal.  In fact, I found myself thinking some was definitely more power metal influences at times as well.  Some of the songs instantly reminded me of Evanescence with the use of certain keyboard effects and those would be hard to miss for anyone familiar with that band.  Despite some similarities, the overall sound of Sleeping Romance is a bit brighter than Evanescence and others in the genre, not just the vocals as mentioned earlier, but also the instrumentation both the metal and symphonic.  More of a light of dawn feel than a darkness of sunset feel, if that makes any sense.  There were moments that surprised me a bit as well. For instance the song “The Promise Inside” starts out with some of the Evanescence sound and feel and then morphs into almost a power ballad in the chorus that sounds strikingly like that from the song “Alone” by Heart in terms of tone and phrasing.  Thankfully, the song has much more to it than that including a string section in the middle and later in this song I found myself liking how the drums by Francesco Zanarelli carried parts.  “Devils Cave” certainly starts out as the darkest and heaviest track on the album, and carries that feel through much of the song with a hammer-like  driving guitar, bass, and drum beat through the verses, which picks up to a gallop in later parts of the song.  Vocal tone is a bit darker here through the verses as well and is more along the lines of what I was expecting after seeing the cover.  All in all, this song is a good example of an epic symphonic metal song due to the seemless combination of orchestral and metal elements, seemless transition between them, and the back and forth shifts between styles.  For example,  midway through the song there is a symphonic interlude with some spoken word from Federica that shifts into some beautiful clean singing and the return of the metal elements and one of the few guitar solos on the album before returning to a true symphonic metal section.Despite some of the songs leaning toward the formulaic, Enlighten is a great debut album of symphonic metal that highlights both the phenomenal vocals of Federica Lanna but also the intricate symphonic/orchestral arrangements of Federico Truzzi and makes a great addition to the genre." - The Metal Resource
    $14.00
  • "From the symphonic mastery of DEVILISH IMPRESSIONS to the almighty blackened glory of BEHEMOTH, to the majestic power of CRYSTAL VIPER, Poland has proven itself to be a proficient exporter of influential Heavy Metal bands. In celebration of some of the band’s finest works, CRYSTAL VIPER has re-released “The Curse Of The Crystal Viper”,which was originally released in 2007, and has thrown in the mix a few fun bonus tracks as well as photos and all lyrics. It’s a more complete package than my childhood Easter gift baskets. This album is a masterpiece that will be especially savored by lovers of power metal, aka the most powerful of all metals. CRYSTAL VIPER’s ability to maintain the savage spirit of power metal while polishing the genre with their own intelligent musical style is apparent in songs like “Night Prowler” and“The Fury Undead”.The band honors their greatest predecessors in the metal world as well. The groovy intro that presents “Demon’s Dagger” follows in the footsteps of SABBATH, and “I Am Leather Witch” has a distinct IRON MAIDEN touch that would warm Bruce Dickinson’s heart.Additionally, the re-release offers covers of MANILLA ROAD and WARLOCK songs, as well as a Polish version of “The Last Axeman”, and a few 2008 versions of songs that repeat in this album. This album is as engaging as it was when it was first released, and long-time fans are not going to be disappointed in the slightest." - Metal Temple
    $16.00
  • "Rafał Paluszek, band’s keyboardist comments: “Our new album, just like it was with Particles (2013), is not a concept album. We abandoned that as a creative method. And when we came up with the title ‘The After-Effect’, it was partly as a joke. An after-effect is a consequence, the result of all that's going on in our lives. Every album sums up a certain episode in your life. It crowns a certain creative process, which is, after all, brought about by something, and which is a lasting phenomenon. We experience certain things, every event has some influence on what we do. Why shouldn't that apply to the music we create? In a relatively short period of time, 2/5 of Osada Vida's lineup has changed. Such changes are like a tsunami - there are losses, but there's also a reason to build something new, something we wouldn't dare to build back in the untroubled days. We don't know what effects today's events will have. Looking at it from a mathematical perspective, there's an infinite number of paths, each branching out into an infinite number of paths as well, and so on. That's what The After-Effect (2014) is.”"
    $15.00
  • "2013 five disc (three CDs + two DVDs) digipak. It takes a legend to bring a myth back to life. A unique treat for music fans worldwide, Steve Hackett's critically acclaimed live production 'Genesis Revisited' has so far triumphed in Europe, Japan and North America alike and is still going strong; on May 10th it celebrated its success at a sold out London's Hammersmith Apollo with an ecstatic audience. Genesis Revisited - Live at Hammersmith - a unique performance with guests including Nik Kershaw, John Wetton, Jakko Jakszyk, Steve Rothery and Amanda Lehmann. The pioneering guitarist comments: "The 5.1 DVD with stereo CD is a feast for all the senses. I was blown away by the fantastic response to those May UK gigs!""
    $22.00
  • I Califfi made a killer prog rock album in 1972 called "Fiore Di Metallo".  Unfortunately this isn't it.  This is a 2CD collection of their earlier beat/psych sound from the last 60s.  If you like that sound there is a lot of material to dive into here.  Put your nehru jacket on and be happy.
    $4.00
  • After their last performance at Nearfest Apocalypse, Anglagard's lineup went through a bit of an upheaval.  Luckily it didn't materially affect the band's sound.  Anglagard is still Anglagard.  Prog Pa Svenska is a 2CD set that documents the band's three day residence at Club Citta in Tokyo, Japan back in March 2013.  Material is drawn from all three studio albums.  The recording is beautiful and the performances are stellar.  What else do you need to know?  How about this review:"May 14th of this year will see the release of a new Änglagård live album: Prog på Svenska—Live in Japan. Some of you may have been lucky enough to have been following Änglagård from the very beginning, but if you’re anything like me, you came into the game when Änglagård’s small catalog of music was either out of print or near impossible to find without spending a fortune; that is, with the exception of one little disc which somehow was available when snagging a copy of albums like Epilogue seemed to be a Herculean feat. That album was Buried Alive, the live recording of Änglagård’s last show prior to their 1994 breakup. While the liner-notes of Buried Alive reveal a band that was not 100% satisfied, 20 years later with the release of Prog på Svenska—Live in Japan, Änglagård is back and going strong with a new live recording that is rich in dynamic and deep in maturity, a performance that I am confident that they are proud to immortalize for their fans.Prog på Svenska represents the first of three consecutive nights that the masters of dark Swedish prog delivered at Club Città in Japan alongside The Crimson ProjeKCt (featuring the legendary Adrian Belew and Tony Levin). For me personally this is a special album that transports me back to when I witnessed their unbelievable performance only three weeks later at Baja Prog. Among a plethora of canonized acts at the festival (such as Hackett, New Trolls, and Three Friends), Änglagård’s remarkable performance showed that they stand in no one’s shadow. While there’s nothing like being there in person, Prog på Svenska is about as good a live recording and performance as I’ve ever heard on disc. I certainly am jealous of the Japanese fans who got to see them three nights in a row last year.The live-set on this album shows a balanced representation of the old and the new, featuring two tracks from each studio release along with an unreleased intro track which I assume (and hope) will be on Änglagård’s next studio production. So that the anticipation doesn’t kill anyone, I’ll start right off with the new song: ”Introvertus Fugu Part 1.” Perhaps the first thing to know about this track is that it’s our first look into the composition of the new band featuring Linus Kåse and Erik Hammarström alongside Anna, Johan, and Tord. I can happily say that “Introvertus” shows a band that knows how to move forward without abandoning the distinctive identity that they are known for, a fact that strongly hints at a powerful album to come in the future. The opening moments of the song show the band increasingly incorporating elements of modern classical and atonal music through the delicately dark chord changes on the piano before constructing a wave of tension with ambient bass noise, a distinctive guitar motif,  and a descending melody on flute playing against tuned percussion. As the ambient textures continue to swell, a big percussive crash shockingly interjects, setting the stage for an ominous swelling of Mellotron chords, resulting in an eerily delightful sound. The intensity continues to build with a drum roll on snare and cymbals that transition the piece into an aggressive angular instrumental attack featuring howling Minimoog modulation; enter a fiercely dark melody which is doubled or harmonized on most instruments before the band takes the listener into their signature dose of woodsy folkiness. Johan and Linus continue pounding in the rhythm section before the eerie central motif returns to bring “Introvertus” towards its close with the full force of Anna and Linus’ dueling woodwinds, one hanging on the melody while the other produces chaotic squeals before withering off the melody in a very unsettling (but cool) way.After kicking it off with an exciting intro the band takes us back 20 years with “Hostsejd.” The rich dynamics, especially the meticulously controlled Mellotron swells, really shine on this one while some small differences in instrumentation (such as the sax on the first main melody instead of flute) really keep the piece fresh and exciting. Although I was craving the intro on the follow up track, “Längtans Klocka,” the supreme level of interplay between all instruments that starts off the piece is fantastic. Furthermore, the guitar/Mellotron duet at about 6:30 that leads into a memorable theme is quite the highlight. Finally, the circus-y melody towards the end of the song somehow becomes even more diabolic in this slightly stripped down version as Tord’s demented waltzy riff serves as a perfect backdrop for the drunken saxes. Speaking of Tord, it certainly is nice to see him back in the band, and I must add that his guitar playing and sense of emotion is perfect for the band and has improved over the years. This is perhaps most clearly demonstrated on “Jordrök,” a quintessential song in Änglagård’s catalog. The reality of the matter is that despite the fact that the band was quite mature at the time of Hybris‘ release, their capacity to bring out all the nuances in pieces like this shows that they are musicians who have truly refined their craft over the years. “Jordrök” sounds more alive than ever; the Mellotron flute section in the middle, one of the band’s absolute trademark melodies, is to die for, and Linus’ superb use of phrasing and pacing in the piano intro certainly takes this classic piece up several notches.Moving deeper into the performance we see “Sorgmantel,” one of my personal favorites from Viljans Öga. The first thing I noticed about this particular performance is that the intro sounds much more raw due to differences in instrumentation, this version starting out with a guitar and bass call and response. While I absolutely adore the studio version, this new arrangement and performance was also wonderful and brought its own set of advantages to the table. First, the bass/guitar duet at the beginning really exposes the melody and shows you that its not just about fancy instrumentation, it’s a gorgeous melody through and through. Second, the band is not concerned in the least bit with rushing through the performance of this piece; the pacing is delicate, precise, and emotional with plenty of space for ritard and sway as the intro melody gets passed around from guitar to bass and flute and is then countered by the piano, making the fugue-nature of this piece even more evident. The playing is incredibly tight but busting with dynamic throughout as “Sorgmantel” takes its many twists and turns before working its way to a quiet ending; graceful… even breathtaking.To wrap up the night, Änglagård once again goes back to the early 90′s, this time with “Kung Bore” and “Sista Somrar.” Although the former leans more on the folky side of the band, as does much of their first album, the highlight of the piece actually ended up being the mysterious and ambient middle section where the band shows that they have mastered perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of music: playing quietly with vibrant emotion. Between the light swells of guitar, weird effects on bass, a steady organ pattern in the upper register, and a lightly beating drum, this section goes beyond merely doing justice to the original. Finally, the depth and emotion of “Sista Somrar’s” slow, dark intro is, quite frankly, deadly, and goes miles deeper than the original studio recording (which was in and of itself very impressive) as an ominous sax melody flanked by stormy percussion and effects guides us to the unleashing of an uncanny tron female solo voice that will haunt your nightmares for weeks to come.In my opinion, Prog på Svenska—Live in Japan is an essential live album that you don’t want to miss out on. Quite honestly, I am a person who rarely enjoys live albums because oftentimes the performances and production are either significantly worse than the studio recording, or the live version ends up being stripped down to the point where there’s just something missing, or the band simply doesn’t offer an experience which is significant enough to enjoy the live version deeply; in most cases you sort of ‘had to have been there’ to get what’s so great about it. Such is not the case with Änglagård’s latest live documentation. From the performances to the production and the differences in detail from the originals, Prog på Svenska is a stellar capturing of live art through and through. And of course, I might add that if you ever get the chance to see Änglagård perform, take the opportunity; if your significant other isn’t a prog fan, take them anyways. Änglagård’s extreme level of delicacy in phrasing and dynamic is a tough match to beat in progressive music and should hold up even in the face of the snootiest of music connoisseurs." - Progulator
    $25.00
  • "In 2013, Norway's ever mercurial Motorpsycho released Still Life with Eggplant, with second guitarist Reine Fisk added to the fold. It was a collection of "other songs," those written for previous albums but not recorded. Those five cuts, despite their random sources, did have another connecting thread: they reflected some of the band's earliest explorations into hard rock and neo-psychedelia as displayed on records like Demon Box and Timothy's Monster. The way forward for Motorpsycho was apparently through the lens of the past. Behind the Sun marks the band's 25th anniversary, and once again, they journey further into that back catalog of unrecorded material. Produced by bassist and vocalist Bent Sæther, Motorpsycho once more employs Fisk as well as violist Ole Henrik Moe and violinist Kari Ronnekleiv. These nine tracks are as focused as those on Eggplant and often more adventurous. Opener "Cloudwalker (A Darker Blue)" begins as something of a Baroque psych tune and unwinds into a taut dynamic rocker with the strings and multi-part vocal harmonies adding texture and force. "On a Plate" is furious, riff-driven guitar rock that recalls the unhinged energy of the band's earliest sound. Rumbling tom-toms and pulsing synths introduce the instrumental "Kvæstor (Incl. Where Greyhounds Dare)," but are quickly joined by the twin-guitar attack of Hans Magnus Ryan and Fisk. A throbbing bassline and strings drive the front as the guitars sing, churn, and shape-shift between intensity and melody. The "Hell, Pts. 1-3" is a suite that began on Eggplant. It continues here with "Hell, Pts. 4-6: Traitor/The Tapestry/Swiss Cheese Mountain." Over nearly 13 minutes, it commences as airy, twisting prog rock with blended acoustic and electric guitars, synths, and strings, all buoying Sæther's urgent vocal. While a fingerpicked vamp holds the center, tension begins to ebb and flow as stinging guitar solos, dreamy keyboard interludes, and cymbal washes gradually erect an architecture of transcendent, anthemic rock. "Entropy" reveals Motorpsycho's more subtle dimensions. At over seven minutes, it gradually unfolds with a lyric bassline, lush, layered vocal harmonies, shuffling drums and skittering cymbals, and breezy keys and guitars, all contrasting sharply with its melancholy lyrics. "Hell, Part 7: Victim of Rock" closes the set with a screaming solo guitar and drum assault over a frenetic bassline. Unhinged sonic psych effects -- loads of reverb, backmasking, etc. -- frame this labyrinthine, careening rock ride that sends Behind the Sun off on stun. After more than 20 records, Motorpsycho remain inexhaustible in their creativity, fully, energetically, in command of a musical vision that is boundless." - Allmusic Guide
    $18.00
  • "This is an interesting crossover in that this album is reflective of a storyline that runs in the lyricist's recently published allegorical fantasy novel, The Edge of the World. Based on two opposing religions that consider the same city as a holy element, they agree to sign a peace treaty. But, as strife will have it, this ends in the literal burnt ashes of the city as an all consuming fire destroys the city setting both religious sides against each other yet again. The author was drawn into a music rendition of his story and supplied all lyrics while a coterie of prominent Prog Rock and Symphonic Rock form to create a band to present this story. Most prominent is the music-writing for the Anderson/Moesta lyrics supplied by Erik Norlander of Rocket Scientists. Vocally, the chores are shared between heavyweights like James LaBrie (Dream Theater), Lana Lane (a remarkable Ann Wilson sound-alike with a powerful voice, who has sang for many bands, and who is married to Norlander), Michael Sadler (Saga), and John Payne (later period Asia). The vocalists take on characters and throughout the album sing the appropriate parts. Musically, this band known as Roswell Six, have created a fine Prog/Symphonic effort named Terra Incognita: Beyond the Horizon. The clear influences are here. You'll hear Yes in the mix as well as the sounds of ELP, Kansas, Freedom Calls, and other usual suspects. The lean is toward symphonic rock with plenty of violin performed by David Ragsdale (Kansas), cello by Mike Alvarez, and flute by Martin Orford. The results are often grand. The works heard on Terra Incognita do the genre justice and are recommended for fans of such music. But when you bring such talents together, you're going to get great music. There are thirteen high-grade songs, two of them instumentals. The booklet is filled with enticing art, all lyrics, and a connecting storyline that brings the book and album together for those that want the full experience." - Matt Rowe/MusicTap.net
    $3.00
  • WOW!  Corima is a California based quintet that worships at the Magma altar.  Full on zeuhl but with a theme based around the Mexican god Quetzalcoatl.  Instrumentation is bass, sax, violin, keys, and drums.  Chanting vocals are a prerequisite.  The band doesn't win points for originality but if you love Magma you'll totally dig on this album.  It slams and will have your head spinning from beginning to end.  Highly recommended.
    $18.00
  • Like Uriah Heep?  Deep Purple?  What about Black Bonzo?  Yeah???  Well we've got a band for you.  Tarot are a trio from Australia.  Using the pseudonyms of The Hermit, The Hierophant, and The Magician they whip up some awesome retro-hard rock/proto prog that will make you think you are listening to some recently unearthed archival album from 1972.  Heavy swirls of Hammond organ and analogue synths abound underpinning the old school guitar solos.  Is that a real 'tron?  No clue but it sounds close enough for me!!This CD is actually a compilation that pools together the bands previous cassette releases and adds on 2 new tracks.The spirit of Jon Lord wafts through the aether as you listen to this one.  Its got the vibe through out.  If they would have just added some flute I think they would have sent me over the edge but as is its a non-stop killer that pushes all the right buttons.  BUY OR DIE!"Here's a very intriguing release brought to us by Australian label Heavy Chains Records, the latest from psych/prog/hard rock act Tarot (not to be confused with the veteran Finnish metal band of the same name). The Warrior's Spell contains songs from various 2014 cassette & compilation releases and brings them all together on one CD. Tarot are comprised of The Hermit (guitar, organ, synths, vocals), The Hierophant (bass), and The Magician (drums)...not household names by any means, but their music is just as mysterious as their stage names. "The Watcher's Dream" and "Twilight Fortress" offer swirling, '70s styled prog rock keyboards, effects laden vocals, and heavy rock guitars, and the nightmarish "The Wasp" gives the listener a heavy dose of occult rock mixed with some serious Deep Purple & Uriah Heep influences. You'll hear some vintage Wishbone Ash on the soaring "Eyes in the Sky" as well as the title track, two majestic rockers with plenty of searing lead guitar, Hammond organ, acoustic guitar, and emotional vocals. Other highlights include the heavy "Street Lamps Calling", complete with irresistible harmony guitar work, the gritty blues/prog rocker "Mystic Cavern" (which could have been a leftover from Deep Purple's Machine Head), the evil sounding "Dying Daze", the lumbering psych/doom that is "Life and Death", and the dark yet groove laden "Vagrant Hunter".To be honest, there's not a weak track to be found here on The Warrior's Spell, an album full of surprises and more than a healthy nod to classic sounds of the '70s. Though a name change would probably be recommended to differentiate themselves from Finland's Tarot, either way this is a serious band with some serious talent, and this new release is going to get some major time in my CD player for the foreseeable future. Highly recommended, and a band to keep your eye on." - Sea Of Tranquility 
    $10.00
  • This one has been out of print for many years but recently brought back in limited quantities by Cuneiform. L'Ethique is a great album from what was at the time The Richard Pinhas Band. It featured members of Magma plus a number of musicians that had floated in and out of the Heldon/Pinhas axis over the years. It rocks out mightily in a King Crimson direction interspersed with Pinhas' sheer sound treatments. One of the best albums of the 80s!
    $12.00
  • Third collaboration from Steven Wilson and Aviv Geffen. Mr. Geffen wrote all of the material except for one track. Musically speaking its a very different animal than Porcupine Tree. Its much more laid back with a heavy emphasis on orchestration. I'm reminded a bit of later Pink Floyd and also Roger Water's solo works. Not a lot of pyrotechnics and really not much in the way of heaviness. Its almost as if Mr. Wilson has taken a supporting role as opposed to equal stature to Mr. Geffen. If you are looking for Porcupine Tree's quasi psychedelic metal look elsewhere. Blackfield presents you with (well recorded) art rock that targets your emotions rather than your thought process.
    $20.00
  • New studio album from the kings of doom and gloom features "semi-acoustic" interpretations of classic Anathema tunes plus a new track.
    $14.00
  • "It is summer and it's hot in California. For the recording musician it means that air conditioners are causing problems and are generally too loud. So, the musician can either sit on their ass and do nothing or simply switch gears and record an album with sounds that are louder than the air conditioners. This is what Henning Pauly decided to do when he realized that moving on to his rock-opera "Babysteps" was not possible right now. He called up the singer of the new band of his bandmates from Chain, Transmission, in Germany and asked if he was available. Juan Roos immediately said yes to the project, but he only had a two week window and it was two weeks from that phone call. Henning loves deadlines and so he started writing to have the album written and recorded, minus vocals, within two weeks.Henning describes Juan's voice as a perfect blend between Geoff Tate and David Coverdale: "Juan can give you the high stuff, but he can also be really raspy and rocky...his voice just kicks you square in the nuts!"Because of the very limited time frame for the conception and production of "Credit where credit is due" Henning asked his proven writing team to join in when it comes to lyrics and melodies, so Matt Cash is on board again, as are Edward Heppenstall and Jason McSheehy. Several songs on the album loosely deal with the world of rockstars, scandals and getting credit for what one has done. No need, really, to point out here that everyone involved will get credit where credit is due.The music is loud, heavy and realism has been shoved behind production value on the list of priorities. Heavy Industrial Drum sounds are interspersed with acoustic sets. The banjo finds its way into metal again and sometimes you can draw clear parallels to the work of Trent Reznor and Marylin Manson. There's more to it than just that, but the production is clearly more modern than anything Henning is done so far.This CD was about having fun with music and production and it gives Henning a chance to be back in the studio and have fun doing what he loves the most...making music, not talking about it."
    $3.00